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Claude Levi-Strauss, Scientist Who Saw Human Doom, Dies at 100

November 5, 2009
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Claude Levi-Strauss, the French
social anthropologist who influenced generations of
intellectuals with his ideas on culture and said the human
species would become extinct, has died. He was 100.

Levi-Strauss’s method, known as structuralism, reduced
mythology and rituals to their basic components to find an
underlying pattern. His theories on primitive societies held
that the characteristics of the native mind are equal to those
in Western civilization and that all communities function using
folklore based on opposites.

“I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths,
but how myths operate in men’s minds without their being aware
of the fact,” he said.

The Marxist social scientist who dedicated more than three
decades examining the behavior of Amazonian and American Indian
tribes applied the structural approach employed in linguistics
to discover a common form in myth.
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